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Three profs chosen to give 'Last Lectures'

April 20, 2010

Three inspiring ASU professors who spark a passion for learning in their students have been chosen for the 15th annual Last Lecture Series this month. These talented educators generally have challenging and difficult classes, but they make students want to learn.

The honor is based on students’ nominations of outstanding faculty as well as the creativity of the nominees’ lecture proposals, which are reviewed by a committee of students from the Canon Leadership Program.

The professors are asked to speak on any topic close to their hearts – as if it were the last lecture they would ever give. The events are free and open to the public, each beginning with a 7 p.m. reception and a 7:30 p.m. talk in the Pima room of the Memorial Union, MU 230.

Nancy Roberts, senior lecturer in economics in the W.P. Carey School of Business, speaks on April 22. Gro Amdam, associate professor in the School of Life Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, will speak on April 27, and Alan Goldman, professor of practice in management in the Carey School, will talk on April 29.

Roberts says she plans to challenge the doom and gloom of economics in her talk, dispelling myths, sniffing out “bologna” and debunking common economics fallacies. Her provocative topic is “In Defense of Price Gouging and Other Contrarian Themes.”

“I’ll talk about Nobel laureaate Gary Becker’s ‘Rotten Kid’ theorem of economics, which tells us when a child will or will not find it in his best interest to kick his sister. Are there virtues to price gouging? What incentives do seat belts create? I want to have fun with economics, demonstrating just how exciting it can be,” Roberts said.

Rather than biology, Amdam plans to focus on insights from her life, on wishes and aspirations, opportunities won and lost, choices made and outcomes. Her topic is “Love, Life, Science Help Desk: Finding Your Way Around.”

“I want to convey that much in life is affected by hard work, discipline and drive, but there are also such things as luck, coincidence, love and appreciation,” said Amdam, who grew up in Norway. “A lot of people helped me find my way. Everyone’s path is unique, but inspiration can come from unexpected sources.”

Goldman will talk about “Transforming Toxic Leaders,” which is about preparing graduates to deal with bullying and destructive behavior in high places. He’ll describe leaders from a variety of industries who were charismatic but who brought down lives, families, charitable organizations and fortunes.

“I want to prepare graduates for the dark side of bosses and organizations that can provide serious obstacles to their dreams," he said. "Drawing on my experience and two recently published books, I want to inspire graduates to learn how to anticipate and deal with difficult behavior.”

The lecture series is sponsored by ASU Student Engagement.